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San Francisco 11, Us 3, Ralph Silverman 2, Soma 2, Ben Schafer 1, Lucia Campbell 1, Ben Schaefer 1, City 1, Olage 1, Jose Ferrera 1, Jean Anne New 1, San Francisco Tenants Union 1, Ted 1, Mina 1, Kendra 1, St. Peters Household Committee 1, Lucia Kimbell 1, Sarah 1, Victoria Hamilton 1, Blanka Solis 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    December 4, 2012
    10:00 - 10:30am PST  

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tenants union, so mostly people living in apartments and now the sro collaborative so people living in sro's across the board. when i have gone to the rent board for hearings they will hear other issues but they just won't hear harassment issues at this point. you know, i worked in 2008 on proposition m and we were excited to get that passed to have something that tenants could go to when they had harassment issues. that was eaten quickly at first and slowly over time by the landlords and their attorneys at the courts. this is something i speak with tenants on a daily basis, when i speak to them in hotels a lot of them are scared to assert their rights. they see neighbors who have complained
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about building code violations, around mice, bedbugs and when they speak up they are yelled at, they are asked to leave. there are several things that aren't in any code right now that makes people not want to stand up and when they do stand up there's nothing that can be done for them around those issues and often people do leave. and when we're looking at things like bed bugs when somebody leaves and the landlord rents it to somebody else, it actually perpetuates a whole series of problems. i stand in support of just cause today and i hope you support it. thanks. >> thank you. ralph silverman, ben schafer, followed by lucia campbell. if your name was called, feel free to come up to the mic.
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>> i hesitated to speak today just because i --. >> ma'am, please pull the microphone closer to your mouth. >> my name is victoria hamilton. i did hesitate to speak today because the harassment i received as a tenant has been pretty substantial. i would like to say i have made considerable efforts to fight to be able to get better, i have a disability and to be able to enjoy my apartment peacefully and quietly. i have made hundreds of phone calls and spoken to a number of attorneys and what i'm finding is there are a tremendous shortage of attorneys who are available to address these issues. when i talk to the rent board about harassment they've told me they don't deal with that. i have worked with a number of different organizations and i try to be respectful but they are all really overwhelmed by the, i think it's some of the comments that there were not a lot of cases of harassment are
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misinformed. i have run into a lot of other people who are experiencing this and i think that the economic realities of the rents being very high create an incentive for the landlords to harass people, especially those with disabilities. so i think there is a great need for some legislation to disincentivize people to take advantage of the laws as they stand. and i hope that we will move forward in a direction that lets people have full quiet enjoyment of their home and the opportunity to live in a stress-free condition that doesn't further exacerbate their health. i have limited hours each day in which i feel well enough to do much of anything and i spent a tremendous amount of the time i do have available trying to protect my rights. i've never
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been late on my rent, i am a good neighbor and i just want to be left alone in peace and quiet to enjoy my home and get better. >> good afternoon, my name is ralph silverman, i just want to express my example of being harassed for the last two years in my single, what is it, my unit. i rent a room in san francisco for the last 7 years. i have a master tenant, we share the flat, they want me out. they have harassed me continuously the last two years, vandalizing my property, my bicycle repeatedly. i get no protection from the police department, san francisco rent board, gone through the mediation process unsuccessfully, they offered a
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thousand dollars and that wasn't, seemed like that wasn't significant at the time. now they have -- arbitration hearing didn't amount to anything. when they were able to obtain a tro, a restraining order against me on trumped-up charges, all lies, they then violated that restraining order themselves and had me sent to jail. i'm telling you perfect example, they sent me to jail for no reason at all. no reason. but now due to that fact they have now more legal grounds to evict me and that's where i'm standing right now. so i'm just telling you that this is a legitimate fight and, you know, they have property, they own many houses and they choose to harass me to get me
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out so that they can, if they were to go anywhere else, just like if i were to move anywhere else, it would cost me 3 times the amount. so the rent control laws are there to protect people like myself and not these landlords. thank you very much. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is ben schaefer, i work with the mission collaborative, i want to echo my coworkers' ben and kendra just cause. my partner and i who rent a room in the mission are living proof this process needs to be reformed and also the fact that when you are a tenant who has been continually harassed by your landlord and you are then in a mediation hearing with said landlord still being harassed in front of a mediation judge at the rent board, something
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has got to change. this is a particularly hot button issue for myself and for so many of us who work in housing justice because if somebody from the rent board can stand here in front of you and actually say that this issue has never been addressed or they have never heard anything regarding this issue, it makes me livid, absolutely livid. they should be well aware of this. supervisor olage has long been invested in this issue just like the rest of us who are also invested in it, and this ordinance needs to pass regardless of politicking about it, regardless of when it's presented, where it's presented, it needs to be passed. that's all i have to say, thank you. >> dear members of the land use and economic development committee, my name is lucia kimbell and i coordinate the
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office for household justice formerly known as st. peters household committee. we provide counseling to tenants for over 25 years now, a bilingual tenants. i'm here to urge your aye vote. our office takes on cases of landlord harassment every day and the level of harassment our client base confronts is egregious, both in person and over the phone to threats and actual physical assault. prop m that was so hard fought and won in the aftermath of the
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first dot com boom, especially with support of supervisors like yourself are being undermined by this increased harassment especially in a moment where further tech jobs threatens further displacement of san francisco low income tenants especially seniors, people with low income and local protections don't serve the community well. instead we see more families are being pushed out. as a city that sets precedent for tenants rights policy nationally, especially with the passing of antiharassment policy prop m in 2008, we need to continue to do the right thing in ensuring that another wave of gentrification and consequently harassment does not further displace our tenants. i respectfully urge your aye vote.
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>> jean anne new. our organization didn't know anything about this hearing until we saw it on calendar so we were a little bit surprised why this was coming up because it hadn't been on the rent board agenda, there had been no discussion, no calls from the rent board, no indications to us that there were any problems. we, too, agree with some of these speakers that no one deserves to be harassed out of their rental housing in this very tight housing market. but what alarmed me about today's hearing is there was a lot of discussion about people not doing their jobs, people at the rent board perhaps not doing their jobs or some of the community service agencies that the city of san francisco funds perhaps not doing their job. because the city puts a lot of money into nonprofits including the one that i work for, we do get city funding, in order to provide services to owners and
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tenants in san francisco and if the tenants are not getting served then there's a serious accountability problem that i think should be the focus of this hearing instead of creating new legislation. any tenant in san francisco can claim and sue for harassment now and if they are not getting sufficient legal help to the agencies that you here all fund very generously through the tender loin housing project, then there's a serious problem with our tax dollars and i think we should call a hearing and look at that instead of going forward with this legislation. so respectfully we ask for a continuance so we can focus on solving the right set of problems. thank you. >> thank you, jose ferrera, followed by mara castilignon
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and blanka solis. >> my name is maria
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castilignon, i am a member with just cause and i have been living in my apartment for the past 10 years. i rent from a private company that owns a lot of buildings in san francisco and i pay below market rent, although my rent is still very expensive. with this last round of rent increases my rent has increased
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to $2005 for a two-bedroom apartment in the mission. during my time with this company, they have sent me many notices with miss steer yus sums of money that i owe, that i supposedly owe. all of these notices are in english and the amount of money that i owe is never fully explained to me but i am charged at least $200 for $250 a year. my building has changed a lot in the time that i have lived there. the majority of the new tenants are not latinos, they are younger, they are whiter and they pay a lot more rent than i do. it is clear that the property owners wish to displace me because they can make a lot more rent renting to other tenants. tenants like me who have been living in our apartments for many years and that pay rent that is much lower should not continue to be
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the targets of landlord harassment. we deserve to live in our units and in our communities. i ask that you all who have the power to support us support the hassle free housing ordinance and help us ensure that our rights are respected and that we are protected against harassment. thank you so much. >> thank you.
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>> my name is blanca solis, i am a member of just cause and i have been living in my room for the past 3 years. a few months ago i discovered the master tenant in my apartment was watching me when i took a shower with a mirror from under
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the door. i made a report, i received a temporary restraining order and the human rights commission became involved. when i made my report the master tenants attempted to illegally evict me and began making noise and a lot of other things that created a situation where i no longer felt safe because they said that i was the one creating problems in the house. i have not left, i continue fighting my case even though the master tenant continues to surveil me in the house. i do not want to continue living in this situation because i do not feel safe, but i have not been able to find another place to live in the city that is so expensive and so hard to move in. because of the difficulty in finding housing in the city, it is even more important to ensure that the housing that we are able to secure is safe and dignified. i cannot move and it is injust, unjust, that
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there are not easier ways to hold landlords accountable for master tenants. all housing in san francisco should be dignified and free of harassment. please support this ordinance and help ensure that happened to me does not happen to anyone else in san francisco. thank you. >> jesus terez, followed by nellie senedra and elise castra and the last card is angelica >> my name is jesus and i come here to support the legislation
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that you guys will pass for the tenants because i work in soma and i work with lot of families that live in these hotels and they get harassed for no reason. there's a lot of people that don't know their rights so hope you guys support this and we can move it along. thank you. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is nellie salvada i support the harassment because a lot of families have been forced by their landlord by forcing them to move out of their apartment. and if they cannot move out right away, the landlord or the management put padlock on their
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apartment. so that's why we want this ordinance to be passed. thank you. >> thank you. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is angelica and i am with somcan. we organize and educate families to achieve a healthy neighborhood, soma and greater san francisco. since we were formed in 2000 in the 13 years we have been around tenant harassment hasn't gone down. if anything, it actually escalated, especially when a lot of the tech industry has been formed or is housed in the south of market. we have over 40 tech industries there so a lot of landlord or management has been really banking on this new possible tenants. so
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tenant has escalated around a lot of the alleyways that a lot of our families lived in over 20 years. i want to tell you one particular stories that one of our families has actually gone through. when we say tenant harassment, this isn't just tenant harassment on adults, a lot of our youth, the children of these parents have been harassed as well. one particular story i want to tell you about is jake. he lives on mina street and his family was living in this apartment with 6 units. at first the landlord informed them that they have to leave because of foreclosure. then when we have them actually get documents from the landlord there was multiple different change of story why they have to move. it escalated into jake's family being harassed, their locks being messed with,
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their safety being messed with in terms of they weren't locking the gates, they were leaving it open for anybody to come in, it really built a lot of stress not only to his parents but to the youth so it affected his education too. >> thank you. >> thank you. >> good afternoon, my name is alicia gascon and we represent sro families in soma. we live a lot of the same stories no matter the background. we're in favor of hassle free ordinance especially because the landlords use a lot of excuses for the harassment that goes on. most families and seniors and disabled persons are scared to use common areas because of fear they happen to run into the management or the
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landlord themselves regardless of hearings that we go to at the rent board they are still scared and told, you know, whether you win or lose we're going to come after you, you are going to have to move either way, it's going to come out of your pocket somehow. we can write letters on behalf of our tenants but either way harassment continues or escalates causing harm to families, locking them out, leaving them in the rain whether they have children or not, not allowing them to use elevators when they are in wheelchairs and so this goes all the way from chinatown mission tender loin soma, no matter the background again. so we're in favor and we hope that you can help. thank you. >> thank you.
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>> good afternoon, supervisors, i'm sarah short, housing rights committee. first off i'd like to say we very much support this legislation. and i'm concerned that bart murphy and brook turner are seriously missing the point here. of course there are no complaints at the rent board. of course we don't have a record showing that this is a big problem at that agency because it is not a category that one can file on currently. that's what this law does is make it a category that a person can come and file a petition about. so that is sort of circular logic and i wanted to correct that for the record. it is really important, in fact critical, that tenants have this administrative remedy for the issue of landlord harassment. tenants shouldn't be forced to only use the courts, especially low income
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tenants who don't have a lot of resources may also have language access issues and disabilities and other things that make it really challenging. the harassment issue is, in fact, a loophole. it is used as a tool to get around our very strong tenant protections that ensure that people are not evicted without cause, without just cause. harassment is, in fact, not a just cause. and so it should be amended to the rent ordinance so that essentially it is seen as another reason why it would be unlawful for a landlord to evict. that's simply what we're saying through doing this, is that a landlord cannot evict a tenant out of their home by a harassment and i am for one tired of seeing these kinds of cases. we hear so many stories where it's from the landlord
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decides they are doing construction in the house for a seemingly unnecessary reason, you know, starting at 3:00 in the morning, there are absurd, absurd cases that we hear over and over again. >> thank you. >> yes (applause). >> ted, san francisco tenants union. harassment is one of the biggest problems we see at the tenants union and it's almost always long-term tenants and the landlord is trying to drive them out use ago loophole. it's very effective because tenants have very few resources to deal with harassment unless they actually have damages such as emotional damages, physical damages in which case they can bring a lawsuit. voters overwhelmingly passed prop m in 2008 so tenants would have an administrative remedy. that measure said the tenants could get their rent reduced if they were harassed. we
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developed this approach to have the rent board treat harassment complaints as a wrongful approach. it will let tenants have an administrative remedy in order to deal with harassment, something that is desperately needed so when tenants are being harassed, they can go to a city department, they can file a complaint, pursuant to prop m they can take the rent board decision and findings and go to small claims court for statutory damages. if we don't stop harassment, which is very common and is increasingly very very sharply during this latest dot com boom, we are going to see more and more tenants being
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displaced and i would be ashamed of the board of supervisors if you let landlords drive out tenants by harassment, it's horrendous, it's awful and you need to stop it. thank you. (applause). >> well, thank you for hearing this and thanks to just cause for focusing on this issue. i was evicted twice but when i was evicted we were able to find reasonable rent, we were able to find apartments in the mission in our same neighborhood. right now that's no longer possible. when people are evicted they have to leave the city. i don't even know where they can go. many people who are evicted in my neighborhood, in the mission, are evicted because of gentrification and they are evicted, they are mostly long-term tenants. our old neighbors upstairs were harassed when their roof was leaking during the rainy season and they asked for something
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very unreasonable, they asked the roof be repaired. the landlord threatened and yelled and intimidated them and they lived with buckets in their living room and bedroom because they were too afraid they were going to be evicted. getting statistics could be helpful to learn the extent of landlord harassment but if we wait, more and more tenants are being evicted. as we know there's no vacancy control so when long-term tenants who are paying reasonable rent leave, the landlords can raise the rent any amount. really the face of san francisco and i know my neighborhood is changing very quickly. this is urgent, please respond, thank you. >> is there any additional public comment? seeing none. >> if

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